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BOOK REVIEWS275 epitaph for the Army of the Potomac as a whole: Had one or two more "less than stellar" corps commanders been relieved back in 1862 or 1863, he argues, "a kind of rough justice might have been the result" (284). Clearly, a higher standard might have been set as well. John Daley Pittsburg State University Lincoln 's Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation . By William C. Davis. (New York: Free Press, 1999. Pp. xii, 315. $25.00.) Half a century ago, Bell I. Wiley, a leading authority on Union soldiers, analyzed their relationship with Lincoln and concluded that "ofthe various factors contributing to Lincoln's popularity, none was more important than the active interest which he manifested in the soldier's individual welfare" (Wiley, "Billy Yank and Abraham Lincoln," Abraham Lincoln Quarterly 6 [1950-51]: 104). Wiley's analysis has now been confirmed by William C. Davis's Lincoln 's Men. (Curiously, Davis fails to mention Wiley's article or use the valuable information in it. He also ignores Ida M. Tarbell's useful chapter, "Lincoln and the Soldiers," in her 1900 biography of Lincoln.) Davis fleshes out Wiley's argument with hundreds of revealing quotes from "around 600 manuscript collections" and "200 or more published sets of wartime diaries and letters" (x). He also offers new information (unearthed by the intrepid scholars Thomas and Beverly Lowery) about Lincoln's role in hundreds ofcourt martial cases. Davis could have strengthened his case by examining regimental newspapers and the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, which contains many letters from Northern troops. He could also have made better use of Lincoln's own published writings, most notably his letter to Captain James M. Cutts, one of the president's wisest and most eloquent letters ("Quarrel not at all. . . ."). Davis's discussion of the soldiers is far stronger than his treatment of their commander in chief. His treatment of Lincoln's prepresidential years is riddled with errors (e.g., "His opposition to the [Mexican] war cost him reelection in 1849" [16]. His "grandfather had not be a soldier of the Revolution" [1]. He had "two years of intermittent schooling" [2]. In 1832 he reenlisted in the militia because "he had missed his chance to continue running for the legislative seat" [H].) More serious errors occur in chapters on Lincoln's presidency. Amazingly, Davis ignores Lincoln's last public address, in which he explicitly endorsed suffrage for black Union veterans (164). He accepts as genuine the letter to Gen. James S. Wadsworth endorsing universal suffrage, a document that most Lincoln authorities regard as spurious (275). He fails to note that the famous letter of condolence to the Widow Bixby was almost certainly written by Lincoln's secretary John hay and not by the president (233). 276CIVIL WAR HISTORY While Davis on the whole does an admirable job of describing the Union soldiers' filial reverence for Lincoln, he fails to note that well before the war he had inspired such a reaction among friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Lincoln's remarkable ability to command from adults the respect and affection that a child gives to a wise and benevolent father was one of his greatest assets in sustaining the morale of Northern civilians and troops alike. Davis attempts no explanation of how Lincoln was able to win such devotion. The answer seems to lie in what Carl Jung called the archetype of the Wise Old Man. (See Michael Burlingame, The Inner World ofAbraham Lincoln, 73-91.) Michael Burlingame Connecticut College George B. McClellan & Civil WarHistory: In the Shadow ofGrant andSherman. By Thomas J. Rowland. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1998. Pp. xi, 248. $28.00.) On its surface, the premise of this work is intriguing. Civil War historians have long lambasted George B. McClellan. Looked upon early in the war as the savior ofthe North, McClellan is almost universally depicted as skillful at training troops but abysmal at committing them to battle. McClellan's demise, however, came relatively early in the war, Thomas J. Rowland argues, when Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman made even worse errors. Yet they survived, and McClellan did...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 275-276
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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